Rodney Charters, highly regarded director and cinematographer, talks about using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera side-by-side with an Alexa, what 4K acquisition means in “his” world as a high-end cinematographer, and his love for the Alexa, and what it makes this camera special.
Rodney is fascinating to listen to. His wisdom of years of working with film and digital shine through and the sparkle in his eyes say that he is just as much in love with the craft as when he began. A huge thanks to Rodney for taking the time record this interview!
Rodney Charters Biography
On April 1 2004 Rodney Charters was invited to become an Active Member of the American Society of Cinematographers. This invitation to the ASC is a great priviledge and honour, as well as a prestigious hallmark in his career as a cinematographer.
Rodney grew up as the son of a small town photographer on the coast of New Zealand — a place recently made famous by Tom Cruise, whose residence in New Plymouth for 5 months during the making of “The Last Samurai,” has propelled the inhabitants into a Hollywood inspired state of euphoria. But they had always been a community of film lovers and Charters as a young boy starred in several of his fathers 16mm dramas made with the assistance of Roy’s partner Rowan Guthrie and the New Plymouth Film Society.
Charters grew up in the darkroom of his fathers studio, “Charters and Guthrie Photograhers”, with the smell of hypo, developer, and the allure of the enlarger. Inspired by his fathers love of movies, he took up the camera early. He quickly progressed to his fathers Bolex, and made his first film “Film Exercise” at the, University of Auckland. This short, which played to acclaim at the Sydney Film Festival, garnered Rodney a place at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, where Charters’ fellow students included such names as Directors: Tony Scott, Richard Longcraine, and D.P. Stephen Goldblatt A.S.C. Upon graduation, Charters worked briefly on commercials while living in London. Immediately following a short stint in the US, Charters was chosen to work on documentaries in Toronto for a Canadian Network. He spent 15 years traveling the world — shooting on location in such exotic spots as 5 months in the jungles of South America and 4 months in the Soviet Union during the cold war. Charters eventually moved into the world of drama after Toronto DP Mark Irwin A.S.C. tapped him to shoot Second Unit on a Toronto based feature called “Youngblood”. Charters returned briefly to documentaries and after winning a Canadian Genie for best cinematography he turned full time to Drama.
As a self taught Mac guru, Rodney has embraced the remarkable changes taking place in the technological side of how movies are made. Working on some of the very first morphs to make it to the big screen with VFX Supervisor Jeff Okun on the the picture “Sleepwalkers” he learned to transform humans into cats and Chevy’s into Fords.
After several years of American TV work in Toronto and Vancouver, Charters made the move to the US for Don Johnson’s first season of “Nash Bridges”. Charters continued to work steadily on numerous TV Drama’s, and several Feature Films which he lensed during this period. As a DGA member for several years he has directed 11 hours of episodic TV including 2 episodes of “24”. However, in recent years, the vast majority of Charters work has been as a D.P. in Episodic TV. Charters spends the bulk of his hiatus, doing either small Features, or TV Movies, which allow a nice break from the schedule of TV Drama. Currenty, Charters is the DP on the highly successful Award winning Fox series “24”, which stars Kiefer Sutherland. He is inspired by his wife Gillian, and 3 wonderful children: May, Jasmin, and Robin who are all devoted to the love of filmmaking.